Is now a good time to plan a trip to the beach?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
The most exotic destination you visited in the last few months may have been the neighborhood park, or your balcony, backyard or fire escape. Maybe you’re really lucky and have access to a nice, deep soaking tub or even a pool.
But at this point in the summer, you may be ready to venture out again — even if only for a socially distanced nearcation. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, your original summer vacation plans likely all washed down the drain, and a popular back-up plan is heading to the beach. Maybe this year it will be a local stretch of sand instead of a far-flung island getaway, but it’s still a beach all the same.
So, given all the risks and rewards — is now a good time to plan a trip to the beach?
Should you go to the beach now?
In most parts of the U.S., shelter-in-place orders have expired. If you aren’t under quarantine you can theoretically head to the beach. There are exceptions if you’re hoping to travel out of state, of course, as there are many interstate travel restrictions, but if you can get to a beach (or even a lake with a lovely shoreline), you’re likely allowed to do so.
Since a beach is always outside, and generally breezy, experts typically don’t consider this an especially high-risk destination. Since masks aren’t worn on most beaches (though check your local regulations), however, social distancing is extremely important and very relevant to the overall risk level.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Avoid crowded beaches
Just as national parks and surrounding towns have become very popular and, as a result, often over-crowded destinations, so have many beaches.
Overcrowding is what caused some beaches to close earlier this spring, and that pattern could repeat if visitation gets out of hand, especially in locations experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases.
We’ve also seen some beaches close down to prevent overcrowding. During the Fourth of July holiday, for example, multiple public beaches across Texas were closed. Assuming the coronavirus will still be a concern come Labor Day, we won’t be surprised to see beaches closed in some destinations.
But, even if the beach is open, it may not be the safe, relaxing getaway you were hoping for if it’s slammed with visitors.
Research whether you’ll need an advance reservation to visit your beach of choice. Sometimes, it isn’t the beach itself that will require a reservation, but instead the nearby parking lots. If the beach in a state park, it’s more likely you’ll need to make a reservation in advance. Even natural swimming holes are requiring reservations in some locations.
If there’s an easily accessible and relatively empty beach near you, just scan for potential crowds before setting up your beach towels and chairs. Just travel light so you can be ready to pack up quickly if the beach becomes dangerously busy.
While I’m sure there are exceptions, most public bathrooms probably won’t live up to any COVID-19 cleaning standards. You may also find that other supporting concessions and vendors (think: beachfront restaurants, visitor centers) have not reopened, so come to the beach prepared to be fully self-sufficient — or keep the visit short enough that you don’t need any additional facilities.
A day spent outside at the beach can be a great cure for the quarantine blues if you plan in advance, know the rules for your area, make any necessary reservations and have a plan if the beach gets too crowded for comfort.
Featured image by Per Breiehagen/ Getty Images
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.